NCAR Climate Intervention Strategies Workshop: July 30-31st, 2019

The Paris Agreement, within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), sets a global temperature increase target of well below 2°C and encourages efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To limit warming to these levels, climate intervention strategies may be necessary in addition to large scale mitigation and adaptation efforts. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) hosted an internal workshop on Climate Intervention Strategies (NCIS)—funded by the UCAR President’s Strategic Initiative Fund—to discuss the current status of activities to assess the implementation and effectiveness of these strategies, including their intended and unintended impacts, and the need for more integrative research on climate intervention topics. A second workshop to expand the discussions to the larger community is planned. The goal of the first workshop was to increase communication on NCIS across UCAR and NCAR labs, to identify new cross-lab collaborations, and develop approaches to holistically evaluate different climate intervention strategies. The following three areas of climate intervention were discussed during the workshop: 1. Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) through land and ocean management; 2. Solar Radiation Management (SRM) through cloud modification; and 3. SRM through stratospheric aerosol injection. 

NCAR’s strengths were discussed and identified in the meeting, with additional attention paid to possible research needs from the external community. The strength of NCAR lies in its community modeling and observational capabilities, its expertise in process understanding and impact analysis, and its connections to the broader research community. It was concluded that NCAR’s diverse laboratories can significantly contribute to advance climate intervention research, if substantial funding would be available, to address the following goals: 1. Increase understanding of fundamental processes in CDR and SRM through modeling and field experiments; 2. Identify appropriate scale, effectiveness, limits and range of uncertainties of the proposed strategies (CDR and SRM); 3. Investigate the intended and unintended impacts of climate interventions on climate, society and ecosystems; and 4. Develop effective communication and outreach.

The first workshop further concluded that a lot of work has been done in recent years, but there is a need to explore effects of climate intervention strategies in all forms using a portfolio of different approaches, including CDR and SRM, in order to integrate disjunct communities with the goal of understanding the uncertainties, benefits, and risks associated with these strategies. Participants in the meeting discussed that a unified initiative would consist of 1) the development of a new integrative research framework to guide methodological decisions in the course of research, and 2) coordination of integrative research efforts across the community. Important components for an integrative framework were considered, and are discussed in the workshop overview document in detail. Interested members of the NCAR community were identified in the first workshop, leading to the creation of new cross-lab research collaborations. The second workshop is scheduled for April 15-17, 2020, at NCAR.

Climate engineering
Figure 1. Some ideas for climate engineering. Schematic illustration by Rita Erven at the Kiel Earth Institute, Kiel, Germany.

Project Team

Simone Tilmes (ACOM), Peter Lawrence (CGD), Roy Rasmussen (RAL), Wojciech Grabowski (MMM), Andreas Prein (MMM), Andrea Smith (COMET), Doug MacMartin (Cornell University), Deborah Lawrence (University of Virginia).

Click for the Workshop Website